Thomas Hardie & Co (6.15)

Thomas Hardie & Co (6.15)

Postby Joy Thomas » 12 Sep 2011, 19:31

Ryan's Bar is a busy west end bar/restaurant with a separate downstairs area for restaurant overspill/Sunday jazz sessions. It's far (in Edinburgh terms) from the main festival venues so the clientele are not Fringe-orientated. They're locals popping in for a pint on their way home, groups coming in to watch the football on the screens, groups having a drink before a night out and families having a meal.

The performance area was downstairs in an area Ryan's Bar had specially created for the PBHFF - they'd put in doors so there was a discreet area we could close off and perform in. This was really generous of them - and made it a succesful performance space. When people were in the downstairs restaurant there was noise overspill but having the physical barriers made it more acceptable - for the diners and our audiences.

The staff were AMAZING. So kind and generous and helpful. Occasionally our audio was too loud and they wanted us to turn it down but all communication was polite and well meaning. Really nice people.

We advertised in the main brochure and we street flyered for about 2 - 3 hours every day. Also we picked up extra shows where we could and flyered these. We bought posters but didn't really use them apart from one or two (literally) in the venue.

Audience numbers: we felt we had to work hard to get an audience however we always ended up having a lot of Ryan's Bar punters who didn't know about the festival and were happy to come down and take a punt on a free show. Flyering definitely yielded results tho - by doing it ourselves we were recognised people we'd spoken to during the day etc. We had about 35 seats in the venue (we took out a row so we had more room to leap around!). Lowest numbers were about 15 and the largest audience saw peple standing at the back, down the sides and crowded behind the bar. Audience numbers weren't tied to days of the week - it seemed quite random. I'm sure they were'nt affected by the weather as it RAINED EVERY DAY !! but if the rain started at 6pm we could cajole people into getting another drink and coming down to the show rather than braving the elements...

Our show changed a lot over the course of the run and we learnt So Much by just doing it every day. We obviously had to adapt to the space - quite a strange one with a grand piano sitting at one side of the 'stage' area (we never touched it!) and a few pillars down one side. This took a few shows but once we got into our stride we really enjoyed performing there.

- Buckets - amounts were really variable and not necessarily dependent on the quality of the show we performed!! Lowest was about £13, highest about £60. Again this was not a fringe-savvy crowd and I think we sometimes shocked them by asking for donations at the end !! We were probably too polite too, making the point that no-one HAD to put money in, etc etc so often people just walked past! We took turns to hold the bucket (or hat, in our case) so we could always thanks the audience on the way out and gauge reaction etc

- Technical set-up at the venue - great for our purposes. they had their own system which our tech could hook her laptop into. the venue were able to adjust the speakers so that the sound just came out in our 'room' and not in the other part of the downstairs, ie the restaurant. It was a shame we couldn't adjust the lights - would have been nice to have the audience in more darkness, or us brighter, but the strips of lights worked the wrong way so we wuld either all be in darkness or all in the light. It spoilt the atmosphere a bit but we got used to it.

- Admin & Communication process - Venue Manager, Jason, was ace, even though you could tell it was frustrating him sometimes! Always polite, helpful and constructive. Venue Captain had a meeting at the beginning than was quite hands off - his show followed ours so we saw him every day just by chance.

Ryan's Bar definitely did well out of PBHFF - our audiences bought drinks and food - sometimes these were people already in the bar who stayed because of a show, sometimes it was people we brought in off the street who came to a show then got a meal afterwards. I'd hope they were pleased.

The location was a worry at first - so far away from the rest of the festival. However for a first year this was fine - we got audiences in, just not the sorts of people we'd have had if we were further in at the fringe with people actively looking for shows. And it did make flyering easier, being away from everyone else. People around the venue were less likely to have already been flyered 15 times that day so were more up for a chat.

Thanks to all who helped make this happen. We've definitely come out of the Fringe stronger, brighter performers.
Joy Thomas
Posts: 1
Joined: March 2011

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